USDA Releases Interim Hemp Regulations, Massachusetts Governor Pursues Emergency Regulation for Vape Ban: Week in Evaluation



This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a draft of interim rules for its federal hemp regulations, which now must undergo a public comment period. Elsewhere, in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration filed an emergency regulation that would maintain the temporary ban on all vaping products in the state.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Federal: Now that the White House Office of Management and Budget has given the go-ahead to the USDA’s federal hemp regulations, the draft of interim rules for the industry is live. These rules provide not just a safe harbor for financial institutions, but, one can imagine, helpful rules on pesticide application, cultivar selection, USDA insurance policies, cannabinoid testing protocol and other vital aspects of the business. Read more
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that alleged that the agency was hindering medical cannabis research by ignoring cannabis cultivation applications. The appeals court ruled that the DEA has advanced the application process with its announcement in August that it will take steps to approve additional federal cultivation licenses from a pool of applications that have been pending since 2016, which makes the case “moot.” Read more
  • Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration filed an emergency regulation Monday that would maintain the temporary ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts. This comes after a judge rejected Baker’s appeal of an earlier ruling that would have halted the four-month ban, which was originally set in motion Sept. 24 in response to the nationwide outbreak of vape-related lung illness. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins gave Baker’s office until Oct. 28 to appeal the ruling or go through the process of treating the ban like an emergency rule for public health reasons, the latter of which Baker has now pursued. Read more
  • Utah: The Utah Department of Health is accepting medical cannabis pharmacy license applications from those interested in operating the state’s first medical cannabis retail outlets, ahead of a Dec. 2 application deadline. The state will issue 14 total licenses, and the first phase of pharmacies could open as early as March 1, when the state’s medical cannabis program is scheduled to become operational. Read more
  • Michigan: Michigan started accepting adult-use cannabis business license applications Nov. 1 and will award the first licenses in the coming weeks. License types include cultivators, retailers, “consumption establishments,” “marijuana event organizers” and “temporary marijuana events.” Read more
  • Texas: Rep. Rolando Gutierrez has unveiled a cannabis legalization proposal ahead of the state legislature’s 2021 legislative session in the hopes of gaining the support needed from lawmakers to successfully pass the legislation. The proposal, which Gutierrez has named the “REAL Cannabis Legalization Act,” aims to establish a system to manufacture, distribute and tax adult-use cannabis in the state. Read more
  • California: Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson has called for the suspension of the city’s cannabis licensing process, alleging that it has been “compromised” by some applicants gaining early access to the online application system. When the latest round of applications launched in September, Los Angeles received more than 300 applications within three minutes, and some stakeholders claim that some applicants got early access to the application system while others were locked out due to slow internet speeds. Read more
  • Iowa: The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board contemplated changes to the state’s medical cannabis program this week, where it was slated to vote on adding new qualifying conditions and replacing the 3 percent THC cap with a purchase limit. The board considered the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as intellectual disability with aggression and/or self-injury. Read more
  • Wisconsin: Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin have introduced legislation that would eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis. The new legislation would also create an expungement process to clear cannabis-related convictions involving the possession of less than 28 grams. Read more
  • Kansas: The Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs recommended Oct. 30 that legislators consider allowing registered medical cannabis patients from other states to use their medical cannabis products in Kansas, although Kansas residents would not be authorized to use medical cannabis obtained in other states. The committee also recommended that Kansas study Ohio’s medical cannabis program, which limits patients to a 90-day supply of products and prohibits smokable cannabis. Read more

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